The British born Chinese DJ has performed all around the UK, including O2 London and Proud 2
London based British born Chinese DJ Lazyellow has played in some of the UK’s hottest clubs and biggest venues. For the British Chinese community, he has become a household name in the clubbing scene. Speaking to Resonate, Lazyellow shares his experiences and advice.
The name ‘Lazyellow’ has become synonymous with Asian club nights around the UK, never failing to bring Asians in the UK to the dancefloor. With his creative mashups that blend genres, to his original remixes of industry hits, Lazyellow has created a loyal following of music lovers within the British Chinese community.
With over three million hits on YouTube, Lazyellow has now begun to develop a global following.
Like his mixes, Lazyellow is a mashup of cultures. Whilst he considers himself British, his parents are Malaysian and his ethnicity is Chinese.
“I see myself as British but with a twist a BBC (British Born Chinese). Technically I’m a British Born Malaysian Chinese as my parents are from Malaysia but ethnically I’m Chinese. They are Chinese but as they were born and raised in Malaysia they are Malaysian Chinese, so applying the same logic I’m British. Although I’m sure if I was in a pub most people would say I’m Chinese or one of many other oriental variants, quite often I’m told I look Korean!”
Growing up in London as a Chinese
Lazyellow had a positive experience in his upbringing as a Chinese and enjoyed the diversity of London.
“Inevitably growing up you notice everyone is different, that’s the beauty of growing up in a cosmopolitan city like London. I went to quite a mixed school so you get exposed at a young age to a huge pool of cultures and people.”
“Early on though I actually went to a ‘Chinese’ nursery which really helped to shape my appreciation of my ethnicity and culture. In terms of discrimination I’ve been quite fortunate or perhaps oblivious towards it, you get the ‘kung-fu’ and ‘slanted eye’ jokes but I see it all as part of growing up. I still get it now and again but I laugh it off, people can be too sensitive sometimes. As long as it is not malicious or physical then it’s not a problem.”
Eastern and Western inspirations
Lazyellow was inspired by western artists as well as Eastern ones, reflecting on his own mix of cultures. “Music has always been a real passion and being a DJ there’s a wide spectrum of artists I admire and respect. I’m a big MJ fan, I love my Motown and the 80s-00s were an amazing period of music to grow up in. From house to hip hop to pop, the influence on the sounds of today just shows how timeless that period was. Being such a mash-up of cultures myself Canto-pop and rap was a real revelation to me and the likes of Jin, FM and LMF played in big part in my pursuit of music.”
Becoming a DJ
Lazyellow was a self-taught DJ. Utilising the technologies available to him and combining his inert passion for music, Lazyellow developed the skills to become a professional DJ.
“Curiosity has always driven me to explore and experiment, music is no different. Hip hop with its rich grass-roots history combined with what was probably the birth of social media and a real turning point in technology made music extremely accessible. I kinda fell into music production making beats as part of a group/band and I suppose things just got out of hand! Sampling was a big part of this and I got obsessed with how certain sounds were made especially ‘scratching’.”
“I saved up for second-hand turntable and mixer/controller thing (it was so bad and basic but it worked!) and it just took off from there. DJing has been a real labour of love, a lot of trial and error, learning things the hard way and just diving into it. It’s an amazing world and through DJing I’ve met a lot of amazing people and been through some pretty cool experiences and nights!”
Ethnicity in the DJ-ing world
Whilst Lazyellow witnessed racial prejudice in the industry, he persevered and did not let any discrimination drag him down.
“Inevitably things like this dawn on you and yes of course there are prejudices, they exist in all part of society but sometimes you just need to harness them to your advantage. When I started out as a DJ I found it difficult to get gigs -everyone does – and was this to do with my ethnicity? Perhaps in some instances but you make it work. I started running my own events catering for the oriental student market and from there I created an amazing platform and network that really helped me reach a lot of new places and people. Throw in the internet and a few viral videos later and I had a perfect storm that I’m still grateful for.”
Lazyellow’s view on Asian discrimination in the wider media
Lazyellow emphasises the importance of vocalising these issues and has a positive outlook for the future.
“There is more visibility of ‘Asians’ compared to a decade ago and it will only grow”
“There is certainly a taboo with vocalising issues but I’m all for it, sometimes you need to state the obvious to make a change. Recently things have really come to a head but at the same time the media is a commercially driven enterprise, authenticity and social agendas unfortunately get sidelined over sales. Personally I find it quite entertaining at least we don’t have ‘yellow-facing’ anymore!”
“Let’s be honest, whilst there is a lot of whitewashing (the Dragonball movie was pretty bad) there is more visibility of ‘Asians’ compared to a decade ago and it will only grow.”
“Ignore it (discrimination), follow your passions and make things happen!”
Lazyellow on representation
Diversity is important to the British born Chinese DJ and believes things are changing for the better.
“It reflects the diversity of the world we live in and keeps things ‘real’ which is a good thing. Then again there’s a balance, things can get misappropriated and stereotyped which is a bit backwards; Asians don’t always need to play martial artists but at the same time at least there is that visibility. Things are changing and it will only get better!”